What is halitosis – better known as bad breath?
Bad breath, also known under its scientific name of halitosis, is one of the great fears of modern society. Whether you’re headed to a business meeting, a date, or to hang out with friends, bad breath can kneecap your social life. What causes bad breath? How can you get rid of it? Is there a miracle cure for it? Take a closer look at halitosis with this article from CDH.
The inside skinny on halitosis
- Halitosis is “bad breath syndrome,”
- 90% of the causes of halitosis are found in your mouth,
- Halitosis can be occasional or chronic,
- There are lots of potential culprits for halitosis, including inadequate tooth care, an unhealthy diet, certain medications, cavities, gum disease, and tobacco and alcohol use,
- The basic fix is good dental hygiene, a cleaning to eliminate dental plaque and tartar, and remembering to brush your tongue thoroughly,
- It’s important to make an appointment with your dental hygienist if your bad breath issues persist.
Definition of halitosis or “bad breath”
Halitosis, often known as bad breath, can reveal potential health problems.
90% of the causes of bad breath are found in your mouth.
You can usually fix bad breath quickly once the cause or causes are identified, and there are lots of solutions to help keep your mouth feeling and smelling fresh. Your dental hygienist can help you understand, control, and eliminate bad breath.
Types of halitosis
Occasional halitosis: digestion, brushing, and flossing
Some foods can stay on your breath for as much as 72 hours after you eat them. Morning breath is also temporary, and is easy to fix with a healthy breakfast followed by careful brushing and flossing.
Chronic halitosis is bad breath that persists despite good tooth care habits. It can be caused by dental issues or certain medical conditions.
What causes bad breath?
Inadequate tooth care
It’s important to brush with toothpaste two or three times a day and floss at least daily to keep bacteria from building up on your teeth in dental plaque.
But research has shown that keeping your teeth and gums clean isn’t always enough to kick bad breath. To keep your breath fresh, it’s key to brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth.
The surface of your tongue is covered in tastebuds and crevices that hold onto dead cells, dental plaque, and food particles that can only be removed by brushing – or better yet by using a purpose-made tongue scraper. And don’t forget to clean other surfaces that can hang on to dental plaque, like braces or dentures.
Even if you brush and floss religiously, microorganisms linked to cavities, abscesses, or gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis) can still give you bad breath.
These microorganisms’ metabolisms emit sulfurous volatile organic compounds that turn up on your breath. The only way to get rid of them is to complete the treatment your provider prescribes.
Dry mouth (xerostomy)
Believe it or not, saliva has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It also regulates the pH in your mouth: too acid and you’re at increased risk of cavities, too alkaline and more tartar will form. Mouth breathing, stress, certain medications and medical conditions, and hormonal changes can all dry out your mouth, causing bad breath.
Research has confirmed that halitosis can be linked to medical conditions like diabetes, gastro-intestinal disorders, liver or kidney disease, and respiratory infections like sinus infections, asthma, and laryngitis.
Tobacco and alcohol use can cause bad breath. A clean and healthy lifestyle is one of the keys to a fresh mouth.
Foods that contain lots of garlic, onions, or certain spices can give you bad breath. You can also have persistent bad breath due to dieting, skipping meals, or fasting even if you take great care of your teeth. Balanced meals and healthy snacks can help you get rid of bad breath – and feel better, too.
Getting rid of bad breath: tips, solutions, and remedies
Bad breath: your hygienist can help
Most of the culprits behind bad breath can be eliminated by developing a good tooth care routine, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and getting high-quality care from a dental care professional.
That care should include full tartar removal above and below your gums every 6 months or as often as your dental hygienist recommends based on your oral health.
Hygienists can help you understand the connection between a healthy mouth and overall health and provide personalized advice tailored to your needs. And keeping gum issues under control can keep them from getting worse or causing complications to other diseases.
Natural remedies for bad breath
There are hundreds of natural remedies available online. While some are helpful, others can actually create an imbalance in your mouth or cover up the real problem. That’s why it’s important to use caution and talk to a healthcare professional before you try them. So before you start ordering products online, schedule an appointment with your dentist or your dental hygienist.
- Lemon juice mixed with water: lemon juice is a known antiseptic, so it can help fix bad breath,
- A baking soda solution: baking soda is an antiseptic and is great at eliminating odors. Just mix a spoonful of baking soda with water and gargle with it.
- Parsley is another traditional remedy. You can chew a few leaves, make parsley tea, or use it in cooking.
- Plant-based charcoal: mix a spoonful of charcoal with water and drink after meals. Recent research on plant-based charcoal has produced mixed results, so we recommend asking your dental hygienist before you try it.
- Essential oils: put one or two drops of peppermint, lemon, tea tree, or lavender essential oil on your toothbrush before you brush.
Worried about your breath but can’t brush right now?
Mints that contain sugar and alcohol-based mouthwashes may hurt more than they help. The bacteria in dental plaque turn sugars into acids, and mouthwash only has a temporary effect and contains alcohol, which will dry out your mouth.
We have a few more effective suggestions:
- Rinse your mouth with water.
- Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production – it’s a natural cleanser.
- Eat some celery or a raw apple or carrot. They can help remove food particles and chewing will increase your saliva flow.
- Always eat a balanced diet. Malnutrition can contribute to gum disease and bad breath.